I received the book, The diary of a reluctant feminist by Bhavna Bhavna as a part of the Flipkart Affiliate Blogger Program. Thank you, Vivek, for the book.
‘The problem in my struggle for a divorce was in the small-print- as with everything in my life it read “‘subject to my mother’s permission.” And since my mother was never going to allow me to divorce, I was relegated to being an armchair divorcee… So I decided, after two years of being separated, to stop waiting for my parents’ elusive permission, and to take the initial steps in the painful journey myself. In this process, I was also branded a ‘feminist’, which in their view is marginally worse than being a terrorist…’
The Diary of a Reluctant Feminist is a profoundly funny chronicle of a young woman’s attempt to get divorced as – opposed more by her own parents than her in-laws and her ex – she struggles to explain the flimsy grounds of incompatibility to her disapproving, old-fashioned, middle-class Punjabi family. Warm, humorous, sad and wise, this is a book for all those who have ever dreaded telling their parents an uncomfortable truth about themselves
A sneak peek:
This book is the story of a 38 year old lady, Baby (youngest in a big 37 membered family), married for twelve years with two children, now mutually separated from her husband, after failed counselling sessions for two years and wants a divorce. She belongs to a disapproving, vociferous, middle class family to whom separation and divorce are anti-Indian. In India, divorce is acceptable as long as it happens to someone else. God is a family member and her God fearing parents and family members do not believe in the concept of divorce. So, when she tells her parents, the blame falls squarely on her shoulders and it is her family Vs her.
The book has been thoughtfully divided into twenty six chapters and a prologue. Each chapter has a beautiful poetry at the beginning and a checklist at the end. The book starts with a chapter on the Art of parenting in India and its five golden rules followed by one on the Indian marriage (a big thing in India) where she talks about the Hindu marriage vows saying that the vows state the three major crucial accomplishments in the children’s lives namely, being born, getting educated and getting married. In the next chapter she talks about the Indian Joint family and who stands where and her relationship with her parents and her siblings. Then comes the chapter on marriages in India (marriage being a social duty to one’s parents), they could either be arranged or love, more so arranged which are more of a community effort. She has hilariously mentioned the reasons why anybody would want to marry an Indian Punjabi man. She has gone on to describe the process of the Indian marriage from the viewing till the wedding and why Indians don’t want to get married again. She talks about the Indian mother in law, the battle of supremacy and the Indian husband.
Then comes the part of the impending divorce and hell breaking loose, her parents say that they had found her the perfect son-in-law and sided with him and her siblings sided with her parents. And since she does not meet the three criteria for divorce in India, her parents say no to divorce. Her children are affected the most by the situation but after separation, they were able to spend some quality time with their father every weekend. She is under pressure to return to her marriage, labelled a feminist and then she talks about getting the divorce and the life after.
The book is actually very well written in first person and is humourous and serious. It made me laugh and it also made me cry. I actually felt for Baby, who suffered while trying to make her marriage work and in my heart of hearts felt that this was what Bhavna went through and has tried to make it a little fictional. Somewhere I also felt that the book was targeted at the non-Indian readers.
Overall, I liked the book, it was quite true in a lot of contexts. Would recommend the book, not because I want you to go through her emotional turmoil but because I feel reading this book gives an insight to to a lot of things which we just don’t notice and think it is a part of life.
Book Source: Flipkart as a part of the Flipkart affiliate program
Publisher: Hachette India